Arriving just in time for the start of the workshop, one delegate stated
that she almost didnt come the mountain in the in-tray was ominously
threatening. And then she thought, this is precisely WHY she needed to attend
the Professional Development for Women Workshop, to get her busy life into
perspective and regain control of the in-tray, amongst other things.
The workshop had been planned for a small group of professional women, to
ensure an intimate and supportive environment whilst they addressed their
personal and professional development. Held on Monday 11 October, the reasoning
behind the 3pm start was that this would allow delegates to do almost a full
days work before attending thus causing the minimum of disruption
to threatening workloads. This was particularly convenient for those working
in central London, as the venue was the elegant building of the Institution
of Civil Engineers on the edges of St Jamess Park and Parliament Square.
The three hour workshop was intensive. As the workshop creator and facilitator,
I opened the session by outlining its objectives. These were first, that delegates
begin to address their own development needs, and second, that they should
understand how to start. In discussion, delegates added their own objectives,
including the desire to acquire a framework they could use to set career decision
making against, and these set the tone of the event.
Topics covered were focused on the role and importance of continuing professional
development through personal development, endeavouring to stress the need
for a holistic approach to achieving a healthy balance between work and private
lives. So many people struggle with imbalance between the two, and delegates
understood the value of making adjustments where necessary, to relieve stress.
"Thats all very well, but how?" asked one of the women. That
was addressed by looking at the advantage successful people gained by having
clear, unambiguous and achievable goals. Delegates themselves decided on the
key criteria for successful goal setting, and stories were told to reinforce
the success which can be achieved by setting goals in specific cases. Planning
for action to support new goals was also explored.
Other discussions centred around the nature of mechanisms to support action,
ranging from the use of a mentor or a performance coach, through to networks
both formal and informal. The women found themselves able to talk about what
had been successful in their own circumstances or not, as the case
may have been. They found that sharing experiences is of immense value in
this sort of work.
At the conclusion of the session, delegates were asked, "what next? What will you do after this?"
I know from experience that it is so easy to leave a good workshop feeling
fired up to "do something", but so often nothing is done immediately,
and then action just drifts into inaction such a waste!
Delegates were advised to start thinking immediately about their own objectives.
By setting a few, strong life goals as a framework, other supporting goals,
actions and achievements would begin to be easier to address, one thing leading
to another. With the firm life goals in place, a more flexible approach to
the rest of the planning and implementation could be retained, a recipe for
greater success on all fronts.
And to keep everyone on target, I suggested that I would follow them all
up, about a month after the event, with a telephone call to discuss progress.
The delegates agreed that was a real service!
So, how successful did I consider the event to be? At the final summing up
of the workshop, delegates agreed that everyones objectives for the
event had been achieved, both theirs and mine. Without doubt, each of the
women went away feeling that they were equal to the task of addressing their
personal development. With the support on offer beyond the event, it is probable
that they will actually do something constructive, rather than let things
drift, making the day both good use of their time and excellent value for
money. Feedback indicated that they would all be willing to recommend the
workshop to friends and colleagues, and also be interested themselves in follow-up
events. Other workshops are now in the planning stage, and I envisage customising
them to suit specific groups of interested people, tailored to suit. An exciting
© Diane Davy 1999